the eradication of white areas drags on

Jean-Noël Barrot (in the center), Minister Delegate in charge of the digital transition and telecommunications, inaugurates a 4G antenna in Arpajon-sur-Cère (Cantal), August 23, 2022.

When we call him on his mobile, Quentin (he does not wish to give his name), the manager of the Etang des Bois campsite in Vieilles-Maisons-sur-Joudry (Loiret), is on the road. A stroke of luck. “If I had been at the reception of the campsite, you had no chance of reaching me on my mobile. On the spot, we do not pick up anything…”, he despairs. The beach of the leisure center which borders the campsite gains in tranquility. But the absence of a mobile network complicates the work of the manager and his employees, forced to communicate by walkie-talkies.

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“Between the Etang des Bois, the port of Grignon and the greenway along the Canal d’Orléans, the town has three remarkable sites. But how, nowadays, to develop tourist activities without a good mobile network? », asks Daniel Leroy, the mayor of Vieilles-Maisons-sur-Joudry. Hence his impatience to see arise in the coming weeks, on a communal land at the edge of a wood, a pylon grouping the antennas of the four mobile operators (Bouygues Telecom, Free, Orange and SFR).

This equipment, thousands of French municipalities located in the white zone are also waiting for it. On July 18, 2017, a few weeks after his arrival as President of the Republic, Emmanuel Macron promised before the National Conference of Territories in the Senate “to achieve full broadband and superfast broadband coverage by the end of 2020”. The schedule has therefore largely slipped.

Start the movement

Signed in January 2018 between the government, the regulator (the Regulatory Authority for Electronic Communications, Posts and Press Distribution, Arcep) and operators in order to eradicate 5,000 plots of land in France where cellphones do not not capture, if not very badly, an agreement known as “New Deal” has made it possible to initiate the movement. According to the count drawn up by Arcep at the end of 2022, 2,179 sites have been commissioned since the launch of the agreement and 1,580 more are expected in the next two years. But that still leaves nearly 1,200 blank areas to cover.

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And this plan will probably not be completed before 2027. Administrative and construction delays, the lack of available high points likely to accommodate an antenna, but also the local opposition that its location in rural areas can sometimes generate slow down the installations. Two years generally p between the identification of a white zone to be covered and the commissioning of the equipment.

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